|Bian Dang's Steamed Pork Dumplings: Innards|
I've been lurking around Koreatown's Food Gallery 32 for a while, now. But generally, I've been too lazy to write up any reviews of the food, since I usually just have a small snack here and there. Recently, I picked up a few items at once to share with a friend -- three to be precise -- and I guess that's the mental critical mass I need to actually get my act together to write something up.
I purchased food from two places: steamed pork dumplings and xiao long bao from Bian Dang, a brick and mortar reincarnation of the Taiwanese food truck, NYC Cravings, and vegetable onigiri from O-de-ppang!, a slightly Koreanized Japanese food stall.
|O-de-ppang!'s Televised Menu|
O-de-ppang!'s vegetable onigiri were made with a high quality, medium grain rice cooked to a perfect texture: not mushy, with a slight bit of bite. They were well formed -- not too loose, not too packed -- and seasoned with tiny bits of cabbage (white, so difficult to see in the photo against the white rice), minuscule, slightly crunchy, orange bits that I think were carrot, scallions and sesame seeds. The vegetable versions of onigiri were a bit bland by themselves -- I'd ordered them thinking they might be filled with tsukemono and serve as a stand alone small meal or snack -- but they would've been perfect as part of a larger lunch with fish, meat or an egg if you need protein. My order of three came with a small container of standard issue miso soup.
|O-de-ppang!'s Vegetable Onigiri|
From Bian Dang, the steamed pork dumplings were of mixed success. Although the skins were very thick, doughy and a bit mushy, the filling was well made with moist, juicy ground pork and a hint of ginger and soy sauce.
|Bian Dang's Steamed Pork Dumplings|
The xiao long bao were the exact reverse: The shells were great, the fillings were not. Although the bready outsides were thick, they were springy and wonderfully light. The innards were too heavily seasoned with soy sauce to the exclusion of other flavors. There was a sweetish hint to the meat and it was a bit overcooked and dry.
|Bian Dang's Xiao Long Bao|
In general, Food Gallery 32 is a likable setup. There are clean tables on all three of its levels and clean bathrooms; the people who work there tend to be pretty nice; there's (sort of) high tech gadgetry like the little disks you're handed when you place an order, which blink when your order is ready, and TV screens that advertise daily specials. But for food, alone, this high end food court is just fair. Nothing I've tried has been actively bad, but nothing has been particularly standout, either -- yet. I guess that just means I'll continue to look.
Food Gallery 32
11 West 32nd Street
New York, NY 10011
Bian Dang: http://www.biandangnyc.com/